Gunfire, screams and terror: Witnesses describe mass shooting in downtown Sacramento
Alexandra Arellano was working as a bottle girl at El Santo Ultra Lounge, near the corner of K and 10th streets in downtown Sacramento on Saturday night. With the club closing at 2 a.m., people were pouring out of the club and onto the street.
Arellano was about to walk outside when she heard one gun shot and then heard “around like 30 or 50 rounds being shot.”
“After that, everybody started panicking,” she said. People began running back into the El Santo.
When the shooting ended, six people were dead and 10 had been wounded in the heart of downtown Sacramento’s entertainment district. Police said they don’t know the motive for the shooting and are searching for a suspect or suspects.
Arellano said she panicked because her fiancé, who works as a security guard for the El Santo, was still outside.
Her fiancé, Jesse Fuentes, said there are three other clubs around that area, including the popular London Club next door. Earlier they’d seen an entire crowd run off, but there were no gunshots at that point. Then around closing time, he and another security guard heard a commotion at a nearby garage.
“Once we went over there, it was pretty much a gunfight going on,” he said. “We were just trying to take cover because we couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from at first, because they were coming from two different areas. But the one that really just freaked everybody out was the automatic weapons. That’s when everyone was running and pushing.”
Sacramento police say the shooting occurred around 2 a.m. in a busy entertainment district that was filled with people.
He said they were trying to get everybody inside the club who were near the exits.
“Get inside and take cover!” he told people outside.
“It was just a lot of panicking and screaming,” Fuentes said.
After the gunshots stopped, he went outside, crossed the street and saw at least three or four bodies on the ground. He said they weren’t moving.
Arellano said there are usually cops posted around there, but there weren’t any when it happened.
“For someone to shoot ... at a crowd at 2 a.m. when everybody is just getting out of the club,” Arellano said.
Fred Harris said his daughter called him about 2:30 a.m. to tell him that his son Sergio Harris, 38, had been shot to death.
“She said, put your clothes on and come down here,” he said.
As Harris talked, his daughter Kay and other family members arrived. Kay pulled her father away from a reporter, saying he had talked enough and had been up all night.
“I love him,” she said of her brother. “I hope people are brought to justice.”
Other people pulled up in cars. “My sister was there,” one man called through his car window, saying he was desperate for information.
Relatives gathered near a bar where the gunfire is believed to have erupted, hugging each other, looking for information and coming to terms with losses.
Berry Accius, a community activist, arrived on the scene around 2:30 a.m. He received a call from a city council member with whom he’s done a lot of work on gun prevention and gun violence.
As soon as he got there, Accius said, he saw a young woman bleeding from her forehead. Her clothes were covered in blood.
“She was just screaming on the phone, ‘They killed my sister,’” he said.
There was a mother who believed her son might be a victim and was trying to figure it out. Accius said another young woman described her sister dying in her arms.
He said victims went to the hospital on their own “because they didn’t have enough medical teams to deal with what was going on.”
“It’s tragic, just tragic. On all levels,” Accius said. “Just continually hearing the number count, the number going from three to four to five and then finally getting a number of six people dead. I just shook my head. Never in a million years would I think the precious downtown area would ever be in a moment where’s this much tragedy, this much lawlessness and a cowardly act of senseless violence.”
Sacramento City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela said she got a call around 2:30 a.m. about a shooting with multiple victims and fatalities.
“That area is the heart of our central city core,” she said.
She described it as a walkable pedestrian mall. It’s a couple of blocks from a show that happened the previous night and there are a lot of bars and restaurants around there.
“It’s a really vibrant part of our city, it usually sees a lot of activity on the weekends,” she said.
Stevante Clark, a community activist, said he got the call Sunday morning about the shooting and showed up downtown to support a family who had just learned they lost a loved one.
“Right now, my goal is to stand in solidarity with the family. See what emotional and financial support we can do,” he said.
Clark said the city needs to move toward “actionable items to prevent something like this from happening” again, and to make sure “things are safe when people are leaving at 2:30 in the morning.”
“[There is] not enough police presence, and there is not enough community presence, I think,” he said. “I think there are some community teams we have that can help deescalate the situations. But I don’t think we are out there enough. I think we need to be out there patrolling our own communities if law enforcement refuses to do so.
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